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On Feb. 2 people turned out, en masse and in red, at the University Field House for the U's Wear Red Rally to raise awareness of heart disease in women.
Heart knowledge: more than skin deep?
Awareness is the first step to better heart health in women
By Anne Taylor
From eNews, Feb. 8, 2008
Editor's note: February is American Heart Month. On. Feb 2 University of Minnesota cardiologist Anne Taylor spoke about heart disease prevention in women on the Twin Cities campus. The lecture, "How do you Mend a Broken Heart?" (listen to a recording of it), was sponsored by the Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health and is part of the center's lecture series, "Women and Heart Disease: It's not just for men anymore!"
While women worry more about breast cancer than heart disease, statistics show that 1 in 30 women dies of breast cancer, but 1 in 2.5 women dies of heart disease. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women. And, while the total number of people dying of heart disease is decreasing, the decline is much greater in men than in women.
Women should know that:
- Health-care providers are less likely to treat women with strategies that prevent heart disease, such as drugs that lower cholesterol.
- Although they are less likely to have a heart attack in their forties and fifties than men, women in this age range are also far less likely to survive a heart attack.
- Women wait longer before going to an emergency room when they are having a heart attack and are less likely to leave the hospital alive than men who arrive with heart attacks.
- Women are more likely to die in the year following a heart attack: 38 percent of women compared with 25 percent of men.
So how can women protect their hearts? Prevention is important. Some risk factors, such as age, menopause, family history and ethnicity are beyond your control. (African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have higher rates of heart disease.) But, no matter what your age or ethnicity, you can affect the following risk factors for heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco use
- Lack of physical exercise
To reduce your risk:
- Get regular checkups and learn your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
- Don't hesitate to ask questions such as, "What can I do to improve my heart health?" And, ask to be screened for diabetes--one-half of people with diabetes are not diagnosed.
- Take medications as prescribed. Medications can reduce cholesterol, control blood pressure and maintain normal blood sugars.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure and hardens arteries.
- Get regular exercise. It reduces stress and decreases your risk of obesity and diabetes.
- Eat healthfully. A diet low in saturated fat and that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can reduce bad cholesterol, control blood sugar and help you maintain a healthy weight.
U center for women's
"When women are fully involved, families are healthier," said Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, in 2002. "They are better fed. Income, savings and reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is true of communities, and eventually, of whole countries."
The Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health at the University of Minnesota is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of women throughout their lifespan. The center is one of 19 nationally designated Centers of Excellence, a designation awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September 2003 after a competitive application process.
To learn more, visit the center or call 612-626-1125. For women's health tips, see www.healthymnwomen.org.
Anne Taylor is a University of Minnesota cardiologist and author of The Black Women's Guide to a Healthy Heart.